As dancers we interpret the music. Our bodies become a visual dimension of the music. But music is more than sound; more than melody and rhythm. It also can include the meaning of the words of the song - both literally and in a cultural context.
There are many languages in the Middle East. The main groups are Arabic, Turkish and Farsi (Iran). This site includes information on Arabic languages only.
Standard Arabic is the language of all educated discourse throughout the Arab world. There are both Classical and Modern versions. Classical Arabic is the language of the Koran and is more complex than Modern Standard. Arabic is essentially a written language.
Standard Arabic is written in Arabic script and gives information on the meaning from its form. The root (usually three letters) gives its basic meaning which is then modified in numerous ways.
Most people speak one of the many versions of colloquial in every day discourse. Unlike standard Arabic this varies widely from region to region in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Think of the differences between Glaswegian English (eg Trainspotting) and that spoken in California, between Jamaican English and that spoken in New Zealand and you will start to get the picture. Often colloquial words will be written in Arabic script - but they often are not "Arabic".
Arabic words are usually transliterated in the West. They can be spelt replacing each Arabic letter with and English one (and adding vowels) or they can be "spelt" in English to reflect how they sound to an English speaker. The latter means information about the word's meaning can be lost and the "spelling" will vary according to where the speaker comes from and how good an ear the hearer has. For this reason the former method is used on this site whenever possible.
To help you with Arabic this site includes:
- Notes on Arabic Language for English Speakers
- Lists of common Arabic words
- Essays on how to pronounce Arabic
- Song lyrics
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Updated by JEWEL